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Lecce says the COVID-19 screening protocol is being “enhanced.”
What’s changed? Principals or their designates will have to verify that all school staff and high school students have completed and passed the symptom checklist every day.
The change began for staff this week and for high school students it starts Feb. 10.
A memo sent to school boards says staff and students “are to show daily confirmation/proof of having self-screened, in a format deemed appropriate and accessible to all students and staff by the local school/school board (e.g., proof of completed paper copy of screener, mobile application indicating a “pass”) prior to/upon entry to school, or upon homeroom for students.”
Associations representing Ontario school principals are upset about the idea, saying it would add an administrative burden and might even cause safety concerns if high school students congregate outside to show their paper or phone proof.
It’s not clear how the verification is supposed to be done, including whether teachers in classrooms would be allowed to do it, said Blaine MacDougall, president of the Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario.
At the Renfrew Country District School Board, where schools reopened Monday, staff fill out an electronic form confirming they have taken the self-screening test and submit it before work, said spokesperson Jonathan Laderoute.
He said it appears students could be asked verbally for confirmation once they are in class. “Right now we understand that the requirement to validate screening could involve a simple verbal confirmation and that no ‘proof’ was required.”
The province should revert to the stricter rules in place when schools opened, said Susan Gardner, president of the union representing elementary teachers at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
But a pilot project of asymptomatic testing was conducted at schools in late November and December in Toronto, York, Peel and Ottawa. About 9,000 asymptomatic students, staff and their family members were tested.
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